One with the ages; life as ephemera

Having gone through four boxes of computer disks which my father had accumulated, programs, accounting records, tax returns, etc., there were a total of five disks which I selected for retention. And there may well be overlap on the contents of those disks.

Three of the disks are 5.25" disks, which is difficult enough to work with in this day and age, but furthermore they are CP/M formatted, Kaypro 2X CP/M to be precise. This predates MS-DOS, and are non-compatible, so not only does one need a 5.25" disk drive, a rare thing in this day and age, but one needs an emulation program, which will allow the drive to act as though it were on a CP/M system, with file transfer software to copy the files from the disk. Now it just so happens that one of the files I rescued from a dying hard drive was 22DSK144, which is just such a program, and one which you can still find on the internet, produced by Simtel and available on their site, as I just discovered by doing a quick search. Released in 1997, this program allows you to read disks formatted in a wide variety of CP/M formats, provided you have the appropriate floppy drives, compatible with the disks, which I just happen to still have.

So using an aged Win98SE system, which had compatible disk drives, I have copied the contents of the three disks to said computers hard drive. I then copied the two 3.5" disks to the hard drive as well, as my most modern system has no floppy drives. The contents of the five disks fit onto one CD-ROM, with plenty of room to spare. The next step, which I'm not sure when I'll take it, is to search amongst my various word processing programs for one which will allow me to import files in WordStar format, for WordStar was what dad used, both CP/M and DOS, and I no longer have WordStar; I threw out the last installation disks for WordStar in my possession yesterday, knowing that I have versions of WordPerfect which will open the files, and I believe my copy of Word is early enough that it too can open WordStar files.

Keeping a copy of WordStar would be silly, as I no longer own any printers for which WordStar possesses printer drivers.

So I now have a CD with files from dad concerning family history, his life, etc., which I may someday peruse, actually probably sometime soon so that I can insure I can open the files, knowing that eventually Windows will no longer support the software programs which still recognize the WordStar format, and that I'll want to have the files converted to Word or OpenOffice or WordPerfect file formats prior to that day.

Going through dad's paper files is having an equally small amount of material being retained. I have no inclination to read through his sermons from when he was active in the Unitarian Ministry, and old ledgers, bank statements, correspondence, all of no relevance to my life, or my sister, so they are being recycled. We are not being hasty in this, dad died in 2001, we've had plenty of time to develop an interest in these files and have failed to do so, and it is now time to clean house and minimize belongings in preparation to moving me someplace else. Those five disks of dad's? That's more than I've kept of my own work from over the years.

You can tell a lot about someone by the books they own, and going through dad's books this is certainly true. An interest in medieval history and culture, religion and philosophy in general, a smattering of economics, some mysteries and science fiction, some children's literature, some poetry and classics; very little that we are retaining from the perspective of would we actually read them. But the current batch of seven boxes of books, which had been in the office and his bedroom, a fair portion of them we suspect Powell's will actually be interested in. But much would only be of interest to someone with a similar background, and that makes for a small interest group.

It's sad, in ways, how little we keep. But the most precious are the memories, and those will stay with us. As will the photo and slide collection, which my sister will maintain, having more interest in them than I do.

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